The Jing Prince Estate’s western three pavilions were built but remained empty, and thus were not individually named. They were collectively known as the western pavilions.
The western first pavilion’s layout was similar to the others, made up of a main residence, eastern and western wings, and some rear buildings.
The Jing Province was located in the north, and the style of buildings were completely different from those of the capital, which had buildings with cold and hard lines, with a dignified air and serene feeling. Although the first western pavilion was in the rear court were the harem lived, the style was similar to that of the Jing Prince Estate.
The main characteristics of northern buildings: they were big, wide and spacious. It may be due to the fact that rich households here did not like extravagant gardens. Of course the weather was another reason. The first western pavilion occupied a vast area. In the center was an extremely wide courtyard with several pine, cypress and poplar trees and stumps, as well as several flower gardens. At the moment everything was covered by snow, and the courtyard scenery was not visible.
Xiao Hua was arranged to live in the western first pavilion’s eastern wing.
It had three rooms, one windowed and two without. The windowed room was the living room, the eastern room was the bedroom and the western room was the sitting room combined with a study. All three rooms were large and spacious.
The east wing also had several smaller houses and a storage building. Despite being called the east wing, it was actually similar to a normal rich household’s main residence. It was only slightly worse than regular palace halls since this princely estate was well constructed.
Although the residence had been uninhabited for many years, regular maintenance had never been lacking. With Eunuch Fu’s arrangements, palace maids had started to do a thorough cleaning of the entire place. They had even heated up the house to remove any excess dampness. All the decorations and layouts were arranged based on a madam’s status. Everything could be said to be taken care of.
Xiao Hua left the Hall of Splendor with empty hands as she went to her future residence. With her came Chun Cao, who also only carried some regular clothing for herself and Xiao Hua.
Xiao Hua had actually wanted to bring all her clothes with her. Having stayed in the Hall of Splendor for so long, she had accumulated quite a few. However, Xiao Xia Zi had said that a madam had her own regulations, and once she arrived at the western pavilion someone would help arrange things for her. Xiao Hua didn’t say anything further.
Eunuch Fu moved very quickly. On the fifth day of the New Year, everything had been arranged. The day Xiao Hua left the Hall of Splendor, the Jing Prince wasn’t present. The room that Xiao Hua stayed in for so long hadn’t changed, but was now completely empty.
The Jing Estate rules stated that a madam had two personal palace maids and four low palace maids for manual labor. For Xiao Hua’s servants, Eunuch Fu had especially instructed Auntie Qi.
Xiao Hua’s personal palace maids where two mid-ranked palace maids called Ding Xiang and Ding Lan. Ding Lan was seventeen this year, her round face slightly chubby. Ding Xiang was twenty, her face delicate and pretty while her body was slightly thin. From their behavior it was apparent that Ding Xiang was in charge.
The four low palace maids were meant for manual labor, and Ding Xiang let Xiao Hua choose their names.
The Jing Prince Estate’s rules also stated that palace maids serving by a master’s side needed to take new names. Xiao Hua wasn’t good with names and left it to Ding Xiang. Ding Xiang called them Chun Lan, Chun Mei, Chun Zhu and Chun Ju.1
There was also Chun Cao2 by Xiao Hua’s side. Ding Xiang probably knew that Chun Cao had come with Xiao Hua from the Hall of Splendor, and let her remain within the residence to serve.
Once Xiao Hua familiarized herself with her environment and got to know all her servants, some palace maids came to deliver Xiao Hua’s allowance.
In the Jing Prince Estate, the Jing Prince’s harem would receive a monthly allowance and stipend, the amount which depended on their ranking. Xiao Hua wasn’t conferred a status in the past and naturally didn’t get anything. Now that things were different, there was naturally someone arranged to deliver things.
The allowance was nothing else but some cloth material, jewelry, tea leaves, coal, make up and a monthly allowance of silver.
Xiao Hua’s allowance was twenty taels of silver a month. Out of curiosity, she had asked Ding Xiang, who told her the senior concubine received fifty taels and the consort received a hundred. However, the Jing Consort and Senior Concubine Qiao was different from them, and had their own dowries. The two of them wouldn’t care about this monthly allotment of silver.
As for Xiao Hua and the Madams Yu, they were of low birth and naturally had to depend on this monthly allowance.
The latter part was all based on Xiao Hua’s own conjecture. This sort of benefit was similar to that provided by the Jingyang Estate in her past life, but the standard wasn’t as high there. Although there was a monthly allowance, those who weren’t favored would have their portion embezzled by those in charge.
This was also why Xiao Hua fought so hard in the past for favor in the past, because she had seen the tragic fates of those who weren’t favored too many times.
Regarding the Jing Prince Estate, Xiao Hua wasn’t sure of many things. She didn’t know if those who lost favor here would get their monthly allowance embezzled.
However, ever since she had entered the western pavilion her surroundings had reminded her that her status had changed. She wasn’t the low palace maid of the past anymore. As the Jing Prince’s concubine, while the benefits seemed to be pretty good, they were merely flowers in the mirror and the moon in the water.3
Since she didn’t know anything at the moment, she could only calmly observe and be prepared to counter anything.
Everything was pretty much settled, and Xiao Hua passed her first day as the Jing Prince’s concubine.
This day passed peacefully, and apart from feeling a little out of place and not used to having people serving her, there wasn’t anything else.
Xiao Hua’s meals here were prepared by the meal management center. Someone would go bring the food back when it was time. The food was plentiful and rich, at least more so than what she had in the Hall of Splendor, even significantly more than the Jing Prince’s own meals.
When she first saw the Jing Prince’s meals she had thought the estate was being frugal. Only now did she realize it wasn’t the estate being frugal, but rather the Jing Prince himself being frugal.
Furthermore, Xiao Hua could order dishes. The meal management center would provide a menu to the palace maid fetching the food, allowing the master to order their meal the next day. Xiao Hua’s lunch had been arranged randomly, but for her dinner Ding Xiang had asked her what she wanted to eat while listing out a large number of options.
Xiao Hua was never picky with food and let Ding Xiang arrange it randomly.
That night, after her bath, Xiao Hua lay in her own bed. Within the room there was an overnight serving mid-palace maid who had bedding laid out on the floor.
Ding Xiang said that according to the rules, all masters must have someone in their room overnight so Xiao Hua didn’t say anything about it.
Xiao Hua was this sort of person. If there was something she wasn’t clear about, she would keep her words to a minimum and let others arrange things. Although it appeared like she didn’t have many opinions, it was actually just adapting to circumstances.
One’s behavior had to change according to their environment. Although she had stayed in the estate for over half a year, in reality she had only been in the sweeper area and the Hall of Splendor. Regarding the Jing Prince Estate’s other areas, she was completely in the dark and wasn’t even aware of many of the rules.
If she spoke less and did less, then there was less chance of her messing up. Once everything became smoother it wouldn’t be too late to change.
This reasoning was based on Xiao Hua’s two lifetime’s worth of experiences. In her last life she had ended up making a fool of herself by struggling against things she didn’t “understand”. While it didn’t really affect her that much, being mocked by others would inevitably leave one feeling uncomfortable.
Several days passed this way, and Xiao Hua gradually became accustomed to it.
These days the Jing Prince never came, though Xiao Hua couldn’t really tell if she was disappointed or hopeful.
Probably seeing her lack of energy, Ding Xiang said many things to her, such as how his highness was always such an apathetic person and would not come to the rear court for several months in a year.
Although Ding Xiang didn’t say it explicitly, Xiao Hua still understood her meaning. She was saying that even the Jing Consort and Senior Concubine Qiao, as well as the other Madams would rarely see his highness.
Xiao Hua didn’t know if Ding Xiang was trying to comfort her or if she was perhaps implying that everything was relative. Putting it this way, she was actually quite lucky, having at least been able to see the prince often while she was in the Hall of Splendor.
However, Xiao Hua soon put these thoughts out of her mind because the Jing Consort had sent someone over notifying her to go pay respects the next morning.
All large households mandated that respects must be paid to the house mistress daily.
The Jing Prince Estate didn’t have this rule a few years ago. However, Xiao-Shi had thought things through two years ago and started mandating all the concubines ranked beneath her to come pay their respects in the morning. Whether or not she came out to receive it was a different matter, but at least it announced that she as the Jing Consort was the house’s main mistress.
The Jing Consort had sent her personal high palace maid Chun Xiang over to notify them, and Xiao Hua met her in the living room.
As the consort’s personal palace maid, Chun Xiang naturally took care of appearances. At least the required respect was offered. Even if in in her heart she looked down upon and even hated this so called Madam Hua, she still put on a smiling appearance and spoke succinctly with respect.
Ultimately, Chun Xiang represented the Jing Consort to ask whether Xiao Hua had gotten used to her new place yet while at the same time notifying her to come pay respects in the morning.
The consort’s status was naturally not something Xiao Hua, who was nominally a madam but in reality had no status to speak of, could compare to. Although Chun Xiang was just a high palace maid, she represented the consort at the moment and thus Xiao Hua was respectful in her speech and careful in her replies.
Afterwards, Ding Xiang stuffed a pouch into Chun Xiang’s hand. Although there wasn’t a rule requiring it, a little gift was usually appropriate in this situation.
Xiao Hua only had a smattering of knowledge regarding many customs. Therefore, Ding Xiang’s casual hints left her quite relieved.
After Chun Xiang left, Xiao Hua sat there for a long time spacing out.
Why did she feel like the hyena was offering New Year’s greetings to the chicken?4
These few days she had pretty much figured out the Jing Consort’s goals that night. Without a doubt she just wanted her out of the Hall of Splendor. Ding Xiang had also clarified the estate’s current situation.
The Jing Consort was not favored by the Jing Prince. Actually, none of the women in the eastern three pavilions were favored. The Jing Prince rarely came to the rear court, and was as she had seen in the hall, apathetic and ascetic to the extreme.
No wonder they would worry about uneven distribution instead of scarcity when they saw her appear as the tower closest to the water within the Hall of Splendor. How could the consort allow a low palace maid to stay and serve the Jing Prince if she herself wasn’t favored? Even if that palace maid wasn’t as favored as she had guessed, having her move to the rear court would still make her feel like less of an eyesore.
This was Xiao Hua’s conjecture based on what she knew. What she didn’t know was that the Jing Consort’s thoughts were much more complicated than she imagined.
Paying respects was something that Xiao Hua had done before in her past life, but it was only a few times. In the past, the women in the Jingxiu Pavilion had never taken Qiao-Shi seriously, and this naturally included herself as the favored concubine.
Having been reincarnated, she once again encountered this “mistress and the concubine” relationship. But this time was definitely not the same, so she had to make the trip to the Changchun Pavilion. But what will she encounter when she goes?
At that moment, Xiao Hua really had no idea.
Really want to say that this novel’s main theme isn’t household struggles. Some household struggles are for the sake of developing the male and female leads’ relationship and plot. Therefore, there won’t be too many struggle chapters. After all, this author is Xiao Hua’s mother, I wouldn’t bully the female lead. No need to worry about Xiao Hua, she’s not a weak chicken.
Perhaps after reincarnating, since Xiao Hua has always been suppressing her nature, it makes people think she seems weak, and are very worried about her. Actually this isn’t the case. Everyone has a hidden side to them, Xiao Hua has one too.